Hang gliding late 1980s


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Hang gliding late 1980s

This page follows Hang gliding mid 1980s.

The images on this page, with one exception, are artistic derivations of contemporary photos. See Copyright of early hang gliding photos.

By the late 1980s, hang glider development proceeded at a slower pace than during its early days in the 1970s. Meanwhile, photography and, in particular, quality of printing improved markedly during this period.

Art based on the Grouse Mountain and Kodak advert in Hang Gliding, July 1987
Grouse Mountain and Kodak advert in Hang Gliding, July 1987

Art based on a photo by Larry Witherspoon of a billboard on Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles International Airport
Billboard on Sepulveda Boulevard, Los Angeles International Airport. Photo by hang glider designer Larry Witherspoon.

Larry Witherspoon used a disc camera — in which the film negatives were arranged in a circle rather than a linear strip — to take this snap. During the last half mile walk on my daily journey from my weekday accommodation to work in the centre of London, I passed a similarly large billboard. Its picture was a scenic view with, in the distance against the sky, a hang glider flying. The caption was You can spot a [Whatever] pensioner a mile away.

Art based on the Moyes Mission advert
Moyes Mission advert
Art based on a photo by Michael Long of Larry Haney flying Haney's Point, Atkins, Arkansas
Larry Haney flying Haney’s Point, Atkins, Arkansas. Photo by Michael Long.
Art based on a photo of Doug Rice and Doug Hileman at Sauratown Mountain, North Carolina
Doug Rice and Doug Hileman at Sauratown Mountain, North Carolina
Art based on a photo of Bob Hanes in a 180 Wills Wing Duck and Bill Travers over Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River
Bob Hanes in a 180 Wills Wing Duck and Bill Travers over Millerton Lake on the San Joaquin River
Art based on a photo by Lydia Slatton of USHGA director Rick Jacob Interviewed by local television
USHGA director Rick Jacob Interviewed by local television. Photo by Lydia Slatton.
Paul Voight hang gliding photo with Peter Johnson flying alongside Paul at Mount Utsayantha in the Catskill Mountains, New York state
Paul Voight photo with Peter Johnson flying alongside Paul at Mount Utsayantha in the Catskill Mountains, New York state

Tony Barton launching in a hang glider by using an ATOL system in southern Arizona. Photo by Mark Sawyer.
Tony Barton launching with an ATOL system in southern Arizona. Photo by Mark Sawyer.

This truck tow system was developed by Airtime of Lubbock (ATOL) in Texas. The Fly America team used it to cross the U.S.A. by hang glider in a trip lasting several months. (See Across the U.S.A. by hang glider later on this page.)

Steve Morris launching in a hang glider at Marina Beach, California. Photo by Geoff Phipps.
Steve Morris launching at Marina Beach, California. Photo by Geoff Phipps.
Mitch McAleer flying a hang glider at Elsinore, California. Photo by Dave Freund.
Mitch McAleer at Elsinore, California. Photo by Dave Freund.

UP Comet 3 hang glider
UP Comet 3

The major manufacturers were at this time creating hang gliders of ever higher performance, such as the Wills Wing HP-AT, Ultralight Products Axis, and Airwave Magic Kiss K-1. However, there was a need for gliders with easier handling, of lighter weight, and with easier rigging processes, yet incorporating the latest design features and technology. Gliders such as the Wills Wing Sport, the Ultralight Products Comet 3, and Pacific Airwave Vision IV (the British-made version was renamed Calypso) filled that need.

The Ultralight Products factory had by this time moved to Elsinore, California.


Reich & Neumann ULF-1 glider after landing at Ager in September 1989
Rigid glider after landing at Ager in September 1989

This rigid hang glider, a Reich & Neumann ULF-1, landed at Ager, northern Spain, in September 1989. The onlookers are mostly of the Norfolk (UK) hang gliding club. (See under External links for more of the ULF-1.)

It’s brains you want

Art based on a photo by Rob Kells of a Wills Wing Sport undergoing testing
Wills Wing Sport undergoing testing. Photo by Rob Kells.

The Wills Wing Sport, introduced in August 1986, was the first hang glider (in the USA at least) to be made with an airframe of the stronger 7075 aluminium alloy, which enabled Wills Wing to build it a few pounds lighter. Other manufacturers raised questions concerning that material’s fatigue life and susceptibility to corrosion, but (as far as I know) no such problems were encountered.

See the related topics menus Sport Kites/Wills Wing of California and Testing for stability and structural strength.


Enterprise Wings (Austraia) Foil landing flare. Photo by Pat Page.
Enterprise Wings (Australia) Foil landing flare. Photo by Pat Page.

A streamer on each of the two front wires casts a shadow on the sail.


Art based on a photo of Larry Tudor and Geoff Loyns in the Enterprise Wings advert
Larry Tudor and Geoff Loyns in the Enterprise Wings advert

Larry Tudor was at this time a distance world record holding pilot. On June 26th 1988, Tudor and Geoff Loyns flew together (each in their own glider) on an out-and-return journey of nearly 200 miles in the Owens Valley, California. (Loyns flew a glider built by the new Australian manufacturer Enterprise Wings.)

Geoff Loyns, from Cardiff, Wales, wears a T-shirt advertising Brains beer. Wales is known for, among other things, its people’s advocacy of education. When I was a student in south Wales in the late 1970s, a large sign at Cardiff railway station proclaimed It’s Brains you want

Art based on a photo of Geoff Loyns with his broken wing after deploying his emergency parachute in the Owns Valley
Geoff Loyns with his broken wing after deploying his emergency parachute in the Owns Valley

In July 1989, Loyns used a rocket-deployed emergency parachute when his glider tucked in the Owens Valley. See the external video link Geoff Loyns talks about his Hang Glider tumble… later on this page.

Wyoming

Art based on a photo of Kevin Christopherson
Kevin Christopherson

During 1988 and 1989, the centre of gravity of long distance hang gliding moved from the Owens Valley of California-Nevada to Wyoming. Kevin Christopherson flew a series of flights, usually among several other hang gliders, culminating in cross-country distance world records. His mother and sisters took turns driving chase.


Art based on a photo of Kevin Christopherson at Shirley Rim
Kevin Christopherson at Shirley Rim, near Whiskey Peak, Wyoming

Christopherson and his friends pioneered new flying sites in Wyoming. Just accessing them sometimes necessitated digging through snow.

After three hours of shoveling we finally busted through the last drift only to find the wind was out of the north. Wanting to fly, we set out with an ax and hatchet and cleared a north launch.

— Kevin Christopherson, World Record in Wyoming, published in Hang Gliding, August 1988

On his 287 mile record from Whiskey Peak, Wyoming, to Kyle, South Dakota, he had to change his variometer battery, which involved fiddling with small parts while gliding between thermals. After losing height over the Pine Ridge Indian reservation, with no roads below, he caught sight of a golden eagle circling in a thermal…

At this point I was farther along than any man had ever flown in a hang glider, going up in a strong thermal and sharing it with what could only be the spirit of an ancient Indian warrior.

— Kevin Christopherson writing in Hang Gliding, October 1989

On his later flights, Christopherson flew a British hang glider, the Airwave K-1, as did Welshman Geoff Loyns also by then. (I refuse to call it by its official name Magic Kiss, instead extrapolating backwards from Airwave’s next gliders, the K-2, K-3, K-4, and K-5!)

Across the U.S.A. by hang glider

Distance world records are for single flights. In the summer of 1988, a small team set about a different kind of distance attempt…

Art based on a photo by Skip Brown of  Greg DeWolf of Fly America near Hawk Springs, Wyoming
Greg DeWolf of Fly America near Hawk Springs, Wyoming. Photo by Skip Brown.

For Skip Brown’s amazing photography, see under External links later on this page.


Greg DeWolf, looking for Cindy Drozda after she landed out of radio contact, encountered a female police officer:

She told me that search and rescue consisted of a man on horseback and she had never seen a helicopter except on TV…

— Greg DeWolf writing in Hang Gliding, May 1989

Eventually, the three pilots of Fly America and their ground crew were reunited after one of many adventures on this transcontinental journey in the second half of 1988 and early 1989.

…the last vestige of a fiery sunset gave way to the golden light of a full moon, and the anxiety of the day faded into the serenity of the night.

Art based on a photo by Kelvin Jones of Ian Huss of Fly America launching from a desert road via truck tow in 1988
Ian Huss launching from a desert road via truck tow. Photo by Kelvin Jones.

The Fly America team was supported by people along the route, not all of them hang glider people, who gave their time, money, and goods to the cause.

We then retired to the prettiest, tidiest bed and breakfast establishment this side of Europe and stayed for a few great nights’ sleep and grand breakfasts every morning. The woman who owned the accommodation had a collection of windmill pictures, and boy did we have just the addition for her collection.

— Greg DeWolf writing in Hang Gliding, September 1989

Art based on a photo by Kelvin Jones of Ian Huss, Cindy Drozda, and Greg DeWolf, the pilots of Fly America
Ian Huss, Cindy Drozda, and Greg DeWolf; the pilots of Fly America. Photo by Kelvin Jones.

Alicia Hansen, promotion coordinator for Fly America, arranged television, radio, and newspaper coverage at several places across the U.S.A.

We had 30 TV stations arrive on site to tape broadcasts; 40 newspapers obtained interviews and 30 radio stations came out for interviews.

— Greg DeWolf writing in Hang Gliding, September 1989

Ian Huss, of Boulder, Colorado, learned some dos and don’ts from that experience…

If you must promote the daredevil image, demand top dollar, so at least you’ll be paid for selling out the rest of us.

— Ian Huss writing in Hang Gliding, July 1989

In 1984, Ian Huss had flown to 23,600 feet in a Comet 2. Although he had a barograph attached, he did not claim it as a record because he had not obtained prior permission to exceed 18,000 ft, which is a blanket limit in the U.S.A.(*) For photos of Ian descending under his emergency parachute after a midair collision, see Grouse Mountain invitational 1984.

On the penultimate leg of Fly America, Greg DeWolf aimed to land at First Flight Airport on the Outer Banks, North Carolina, near where the Wright brothers flew and from where in 1979 astronaut Neil Armstrong set altitude and climb records in a Learjet. DeWolf had only enough height for a straight-in approach and he would be lucky to clear the trees, then a light aircraft turned onto the runway…

I held my course and was relieved at the quickness of the craft’s acceleration. I relaxed watching the plane cross my path a half mile in front of me. I relaxed, that is, until I saw the second plane start rolling down the runway! Couldn’t anything on this trip be easy?

— Greg DeWolf writing in Hang Gliding, July 1989

Art based on a photo  by Skip Brown of Greg DeWolf flying over Francis Rogallo at the Wright memorial
Greg DeWolf flying over Francis Rogallo at the Wright memorial. Photo by Skip Brown.

This topic continues in Hang gliding 1990 to 1993.

Reference

Ian Huss flying to 23,600 ft: Dan Johnson, Product Lines in Whole Air, August 1984 and October 1984

External links

Geoff Loyns talks about his Hang Glider tumble and ballistic reserve deployment in Owens Valley, USA, on YouTube

Photo of Greg DeWolf and the windmill on the Skip Brown Photography Facebook page

Remembering Greg DeWolf on the U.S. Hawks web site

Skip Brown Photography Facebook page

ULF-1 by Dieter Reich on Nest of Dragons

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